Informed consent is, in both medical and legal terminology, the necessity for doctors to fully inform their patients about any risks involved in any proposed medical procedure or treatment. If a doctor does not get informed consent from a patient, and the patient is injured as a result of the procedure or treatment, the patient may have grounds to sue the doctor for medical malpractice.
Generally, medical procedures or treatments involve some risk. The doctor involved is responsible for giving the patient information about any particular treatment or procedure so the patient can then decide whether to undergo the procedure or not.
Doctors typically require patients to sign a consent form, which details the risks of any given treatment or procedure. However, signing a form alone does not necessarily prove that the patient gave informed consent. The doctor has to actually discuss the procedure and associated risks with the patient. The doctor must help the patient understand the risks he or she faces.
Whether or not a patient gave informed consent to a treatment is vital in medical malpractice claims. If a doctor fails to get a patient's informed consent, and it is later determined that the patient would not have opted for the treatment if the risks were known, then the patient may be able to sue the doctor for medical malpractice.
In a medical malpractice claim involving informed consent, you must be able to prove that:
- the physician had a duty to disclose relevant medical information;
- the physician either failed to inform or inadequately informed the patient of medically relevant information which a reasonable physician would have disclosed under the same or similar circumstances;
- if the physician had disclosed the information, a reasonable person in your position would have chosen a different course of treatment, or have chosen no treatment;
- you were injured by the proposed treatment or failure to be treated.
As with any medical malpractice claim, it will be necessary to use expert witness testimony in order to establish the lack of informed consent.
There are some situations, however, in which informed consent isn't always necessary. In the event of emergency medical treatment, a medical professional might need to act quickly in order to save a patients life, and therefore would not have the time to get consent from the patient.
For more information about informed consent and medical malpractice personal injury claims in Illinois, contact an experienced Chicago medical malpractice attorney from Nemeroff Law Offices – 312.629.8800.